20 Native American Turkey Facts

Wild Turkeys


  1. The Wild Turkey is a true indigenous American.
  2. Adult males are called gobblers or toms.
  3. Female birds are known as hens.
  4. Each turkey has 5,000 and 6,000 feathers.
  5. Wild Turkeys are agile flyers who sail close to the ground.
  6. They can cover a quarter-mile distance each flight.
  7. Florida State University research suggest that First Nation tribes were raising turkeys as early as 1200-1400 AD: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161121111328.htm
  8. Early Native Americans only hunted turkeys for food in emergencies.
  9. Farming tribes kept wild fowl for insect control of their crops.
  10. Turkey feathers are considered powerful medicine.
  11. They are also used in making ceremonial cloaks and headdresses.
  12. In some tribes these birds are considered to be wily tricksters.
  13. In other cultures the turkey is characterized as shy and elusive.
  14. The Pina honor the turkey as a Rain Spirit that can predict weather.
  15. The Turkey Dance is important to the Caddo.
  16. Many tribes consider this bird to be a shamanistic medium between the sky spirits and the earth.
  17. Believing that turkeys acted as guides to the next world, many Southwestern tribes traditionally  buried their dead in turkey-feather robes.
  18. Early European invaders killed as many as 100 fowl each day, hunting them almost to extinction.
  19. Programs to reintroduce these birds into the wild are starting to show promise.
  20. Benjamin Franklin admired the turkey for its modesty, alertness, self-reliance, and its ability to thrive of the land.


Native Languages of the Americas, “Native American Turkey Mythology,” at http://www.native-languages.org/legends-turkey.htm

Nature Almanac, “A Short Social History pf the Wild Turkey,” at http://www.naturealmanac.com/archive/wild_turkey/wild_turkey.html

Science Daily, “Native Americans raised turkeys long before first Thanksgiving,” at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161121111328.htm

Wikipedia, “Turkey (bird)” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey_(bird)

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